|System: PS2, PC, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Crystal Dynamics||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 5, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Philip Hanan
June 13, 2007 - In 1996, one game stepped forward to show the world how 3D technology could revolutionize the game industry. That game was Tomb Raider. It was one of the first games to feature massive 3D levels combined with texture mapping and a remarkably realistic character that gamers would fall in love with.
The gameplay was simple, yet effective: Run through a level until you get stuck. Then, find out how to make an exit and how to reach the switch to make that exit. In between, you would run, jump, and climb over objects all while dodging and killing wild enemies and villains. Core used this classic formula for all of its TR games during the PS one and early 3D PC era.
As the series progressed, the TR games would feature more original stories, stranger locales, and more complex controls. Although the game would become more realistic, the simple action and classic adventure levels would still be fan favorites to this day. When the series' popularity started to wane, Core removed some of the action and turned the game into a pure adventure with Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Fans of the jump and climb game series cried when Lara mostly climbed stairs and had to train herself to climb buildings, pull herself up, and even pick her nose.
Core had ruined the series they created. The series practically died due to either Core being too depressed to develop another game or due to the fact they wanted to stop. Eidos didn't want to lose their money making gaming icon, however, and neither did Lara's original creator. Eidos hired Crystal Dynamics, creators of the lesser known Core games, Gex, Akuji, and Soul Reaver, to change the direction of Lara Croft and restore her to her roots at the same time.
They did so with Tomb Raider Legend, which took out the RPG-esque adventure elements of Lara Croft and replaced it with a pure action/adventure game. Lara looked more realistic and moved more realistically, but not enough that she grew physically weak over time. The puzzles were fairly obvious, but more realistic than simple "pull the switch" mechanisms that haunted Lara in her past. She also was equipped with modern gadgets such as a magnetic grappling hook.
The modern physics, graphics, and return to action helped sell Lara Croft over many game consoles. Still, it wasn't good enough for the fans. Although Legend was better than the last three TR games, Lara didn't go exploring different paths in traditional places, and she didn't remind gamers of the "old Lara."
Crystal Dynamics realized this and decided to thank the fans for buying so many of Lara's games. To this day, TR fans' favorite is TR1 whether it's on the Saturn, the PS one, or on the PC. It was time for Crystal Dynamics to deliver the same type of quality that Core had. To celebrate 10 years of Lara Croft, and to thank the fans who wanted the same TR1 action, Crystal Dynamics released Tomb Raider Anniversary for the PC and PS2.
Tomb Raider is my third favorite game series after Mega Man and Donkey Kong. I loved TR1 and played multiple times, completing it with and without codes. I was extremely excited to be able to deliver this review to you and I will directly compare TRA with TR1 and TRL, so you know what you'll be getting for your money.
Tomb Raider Anniversary has the same title screen options as the PS one games, including Lara Croft's manor. The manor has been totally retooled and is similar to the one in Legend, only Crystal Dynamics has added even more rooms to it, making it the largest mansion Lara has ever owned. It's strange to see it as it is based upon Legend but featured in her first adventure. There are certain elements of it that remind you of her original 32 bit manor, such as a workout room and a pool, which is still under construction in this game. The layout is a bit different as the stairs are to the side of the front door and Lara's bedroom is much larger than before. Overall, she has the same pieces in her manor, including statues, artifacts, a bed, a closet, a training room, a hedge maze, and a fountain. Even the butler is in the game, but he seems rather stiff this time around.
The manor itself contains a story about how Lara must turn her water back on since she came back during her manor's renovation. In order to do so, she has to find the machine piece which can only be obtained by finding other parts which are obtained by exploring rooms and breaking objects. The manor is like its own little adventure. Completing the level unlocks the first award of the game, music from the manor. You can also try on multiple outfits in the manor after unlocking the outfits relic in the game's multiple levels. Some of those outfits include her Legend outfit, her TR1 outfit, and her TR2 Sola Wetsuit.
The graphics during the manor level are quite stunning, but it's easy to make a decorative box look good. The true test of a developer is to make natural objects look truly natural. Crystal Dynamics has certainly done that. In fact, Lara's levels no longer feel like boxes any more as you can't even tell where you really are in computer space. There's no glitching, no black ceilings, and hardly any sprites. The remade levels truly look real as the PS2 version's graphics actually rival 360's Legend. If Crystal Dynamics developed every PS2 game from now on, I would be a happy boy.